Pain Relief

Pain Relief Using Therapeutic Ultrasound

Most people think of ultrasound as a preoperative technology to take a look at your internal organs or as a way to take a look at a growing fetus.  Therapeutic ultrasound machines are also used for pain relief.  They are a staple tool used in physical therapy and occupational therapy and are available for home use. It’s a safe tool that can speed recovery. Several conditions can be treated effectively by ultrasound machines.

Therapeutic Ultrasound Pain Relief

What Is Therapeutic Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a relatively simple technology. There’s a crystal in the device, and when you electrify it, sound waves come out the tip. These sound waves pass through your body and heat things up. As you might guess, the main reason to use this technology is to apply directed heat to various parts of your body.

Benefits of Ultrasound Therapy Treatment

Why wouldn’t you just use a heat pack since it’s cheaper? Because ultrasound provides deep heat — much deeper than a hot towel or heating pad. The higher intensity head can penetrate fleshy parts of the body or places where the pain is deeper.

Musculoskeletal pain — like muscle spasms — is the most typical condition treated by ultrasound machines. Treatment can extend the life of the tissue and boost its range of motion. Nerve damage or inflammation can also be treated since heated tissues will promote blood flow and healing.

Bursitis, an inflammation of the sac between the bone and the tendon being filled with fluid, is another candidate for treatment with ultrasound. Herniated discs can also be treated, although there are special precautions regarding scanning directly over the spinal cord among patients with back problems or history of back surgery. Tendinitis can also be treated by heat.

Sprains — laceration and painful wrenching of joint ligaments — can be treated using ultrasound therapy. Patients with frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis can benefit as the treatment enhances range-of-motion. Shoulder pain and stiffness will therefore improve.

Arthritis or joint inflammation can be treated effectively through thermotherapy. The specific conditions that can improve include osteoarthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and Reiter’s syndrome. Rotator cuff injury can also show improvement.


The generalized pain associated with fibromyalgia can be treated using ultrasound machines. TMJ disorder, myofascial pain syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus can also benefit from ultrasound therapy. Trigger points where muscle spasms are localized can be alleviated by heat. Phantom limb pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and complex regional pain syndrome are other cases that should be treated using ultrasound interventions.

Contraindications of Therapeutic Ultrasound

While ultrasound machines are generally considered safe, there are more risks involved during the treatment function, compared to the diagnostic function, since heat is directly applied on the affected areas. This type therapy is not recommended in areas near tumors and areas of bone overgrowth like Paget’s disease, over a pregnant woman’s abdomen, over the eyes, heart, reproductive parts and bony areas and over areas of infections or where there are oozing wounds.

The transducer should not be placed directly over children’s growing bones, near pacemakers of the heart and other implanted devices inside the body, near an exposed spinal cord among patients with a laminectomy, near metallic implants like joint replacements unless allowed by the physician. Patients with impaired sensation due to diabetic neuropathy are also contraindicated.

You should feel no pain throughout the procedure. Cease treatment if you feel or notice anything unusual. Side effects are also not common during and after the procedure. Report immediately to your doctor any abnormalities that may arise after receiving treatment. Do not hesitate to ask your doctors for tips and answers for all your concerns for optimum and immediate recovery.



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14 Comments

  1. That is quite interesting. I didn’t know we had this kind of treatment. Didn’t expect ultrasound to be used in that way.

  2. Aaahhhh….so even sprains can be treated using some ultrasound? That’s a new one to me.

  3. Wow this is enlightening. I didnt know ultrasounds can help in this way.

  4. My solution is yoga and stretching. Now I have another option. Thanks a lot for sharing. – Knycx journeying

  5. I did know there was a minimal risk. I think it could be worth it though, considering.

  6. It’s so strange to think that ultrasound can have all the beneficial effects it does

  7. very useful post. when i was at hand therapy they used an ultrasound and either it was psychological or it really worked but i felt great when it was happening.

  8. Pain Relief Using Therapeutic Ultrasound? How interesting. Never imagined such a thing existed. I wonder if it would work for on my waist.

  9. Great article. I learned a lot from what you wrote. I have never known that ultrasound could be used like this. Thanks for sharing.

  10. like always useful information and tips, thanks for sharing. so is it possible to use this machine at home?

  11. This is a new technique, how fascinating to read about! But I have to admmit to feeling a bit sceptical… does it really work?

  12. I have tried therapeutic ultrasound before but it didnt work for me. However, I am going to try it again soon after reading this. Thank you for sharing

  13. I can see how this could be used to help with pain. It seems like medicine is always finding new ways to use standard treatments.

  14. Oh wow! I had no idea that ultrasound could be used in such a way. This would really help my shoulder a lot.

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